Everyone deserves to have access to quality healthcare. And, fortunately, in the United States, there are many doctors available. In fact, for Americans, the problem isn’t finding a doctor. It’s choosing the right one from among so many options.
Fortunately, there are things like HealthGrades for doctors which help people to find qualified medical doctors who are consistently rated highly by patients. Knowing information such as this and being able to type things like “medical doctors near me” into Google makes it quite easy to perform a doctor search.
However, when it comes to how to find a doctor, it is important for people to know how to choose the right professional, from among all their search results, to meet their needs.
Consider Your Health Plan and its Network
In your quest to find a physician, one of the first things to think about is your health plan and its requirements and stipulations. When you type “doctors in my area” into a search engine, you shouldn’t just choose blindly from the results without considering your health plan.
If your health plan is like most, it has local doctors and other healthcare professionals who are considered “in your network.” This means that, when you choose to go to one of these doctors, you enjoy discounted pricing.
Choosing a doctor outside of your network not only keeps you from getting this discount but, in many cases, it can also mean that you get charged an additional fee for going out of network.
Thus, when you attempt to find a primary care doctor, make sure you know the details of your health plan and which offices count as in network.
Of course, if you don’t have insurance, you’ll have to focus more on MA physician profile options that cater to people with no insurance or who are underinsured.
Don’t worry. Many of these doctors are very good, but you’ll have to work hard to find one you can afford out of pocket or who is willing to work with you by offering a payment plan or some other more affordable option.
Make Location a Major Priority
In addition to being sure to choose a doctor in network, if applicable, you will also want to choose a healthcare provider who is convenient to where you live.
Many people think that traveling a few extra miles to find a good, affordable doctor isn’t that big of a deal. And, while that certainly is true, it’s also true that, when you’re sick, the last thing you want is to have to take a long drive.
Think also of emergency situations. If something serious were to happen, it would be much better and safer for you if your doctor were nearby.
All of this is especially true if you are reliant on other people for transportation. While a lot of factors should go into choosing a doctor, one of the most important is where the doctor is located and how easy it is for you to get to that location.
Finding a Good Doctor in Your Area
Determining a primary care doctor is one of the most important health decisions you need to make. More people than ever are now searching for a primary care physician they can call their own.
Some approaches and resources can be extremely helpful as you look for a new doctor. Below we will explain why it’s so important to find a good primary care doctor, what to focus on in your search, and where you should go to get the information you need.
The Importance of a Primary Doctor
Almost every insurance plans require patients to choose one physician to serve as the main resource. Having a great doctor-patient relationship can not only help you with day-to-day health problems such as the flu or a sprained ankle but also refer you to hospital specialists when necessary and more importantly, manage all of the care and medicine you receive.
Studies show that people who have strong connections with their physician not only show higher satisfaction with their care but also enjoy better health most of the time. That makes sense because having good communication or contact with the doctor who oversees your care can help make sure you get the tests and treatments you need and avoid usual problems, such as getting duplicative or contradictory treatments from a group of specialists at a hospital.
Before Starting Your Doctor Search
If you are related to a doctor, nurse, or healthcare specialist, ask for questions such as names of doctors or practices in your area whom they like and trust. This can be more on point than recommendations from friends. You should also analyze what kind of doctor you want or need. Are you looking for a family doctor who can care for your whole family or someone who focuses on older people or women?
Things to Consider as You Seek the Right Doctor for You
Check Your Health Insurance – Use insurer’s directory or search on its website for doctors in your network. Because doctors often add or drop plans, contact the office to verify that the doctor still accepts your insurance or even family health insurance.
Hospital Affiliation – Your choice of doctor can decide which hospital you go to, if needed, so find out where the doctor has admitting privileges. Then use hospital ratings to see how that facility compares with other hospitals in your area.
Search for a Doctor with Medical Board Certification – If a doctor has been certified through the American Board of Medical Specialties it means a doctor has:
- Earned a medical degree from a qualified medical school
- Completed three to seven years of accredited residency training
- Received a license from a state medical board
- Passed one or more exams administered by a member of the ABMS
To maintain this certification, a doctor is expected to participate in continuing education.
Rate compatibility – More than half of patients focus on personality and relationship when choosing a physician. Use your initial visit as a litmus test. Factors to consider: Does the doctor listen to you without interrupting? Do they completely answer your questions? Do they explain your diagnosis and treatment? Do they specify a date and time for a follow-up appointment?
Study the Staff – They are the people who will schedule your appointments, check the time you in and out, give the doctor your messages, questions, and address insurance concerns. Look for a staff that’s friendly, efficient, and respectful.
Think About Your Current Health Situation
If you are a generally healthy person, then you can easily choose any good general health care provider who is in network and convenient to you.
However, if you have special medical concerns, such as a disease or other health condition, you will need to be a bit more selective about the doctor that you choose.
If you have diabetes, for example, you are going to want to choose a doctor who specializes in or who is at least familiar with the treatment of diabetes.
With that in mind, it is imperative that you think about your health status and any health conditions you may have and that you factor these into your “doctor decision.”
You don’t necessarily have to choose a specialist, but you should do enough research to feel sure that your doctor understands your health struggles and can help you to treat and manage them properly.
Visit Your Potential Doctor in Person
One final tip that can help you to find the perfect doctor to meet your needs is to always schedule a visit with potential healthcare providers in person.
You can read all the reviews you want online, but nothing really compares to meeting a doctor in person and getting a real feel for him or her.
As you can see, there is a lot to think about when finding and choosing a doctor. However, if you can keep these tips in mind, you can easily find the perfect person to treat you and to help you live a healthy life.